Old Dominion has a bye this week so let the makeover begin.
The Monarchs are set to rebuild and revamp its offense, which is led by a freshman, and not just any freshman.
Steven Williams is believed to be the second-youngest player to start a game at the major college (FBS) level. The left-handed spinner from Washington, D.C., is just 17 and was under center last week when ODU lost 38-0 to then-No.13 Virginia Tech and one of the best defenses in the country, in Blacksburg, Va.
"We're going to build around what he's most comfortable with and most comfortable doing," ODU coach Bobby Wilder said. "He's got a very strong arm, he's athletic, he's intelligent. We've always had a philosophy of we're going to start with the quarterback and build around the quarterback and do what our best 11 personnel do well."
Williams, the No. 2 quarterback as an eighth grader in high school, completed just eight of 26 passes for 85 yards and an interception. There were several dropped passes in those 18 incompletions but Williams showed some quickness and elusiveness that sets him apart from others at his position no matter how old they are. He was sacked just once against the Hokies.
"It was a tough game. … It was a good experience though playing in that environment," said Williams, who also rushed for 24 yard on six carries. "Going into it I was just thinking be smart with the ball, ball security is big, don't make any turnovers. I go into every game thinking that way."
Though his receivers could have done more to help the freshman, Williams said the drops didn't him off kilter too much.
"I wasn't too frustrated about it but we have to make the plays," Williams said. "Receivers have to be physical, running good routes, make plays and do their job. I think we'll be fine."
The Monarchs have a number of injured players on offense, which didn't help Williams Saturday. ODU was slated to hold its first practice of the week Thursday to give the injured players more time to heal in preparation of its Oct.7 matchup with Lane Kiffin's Florida Atlantic in Norfolk.
Wilder may not have been itching to play Williams but when Blake LaRussa, a seldom-used backup last year, and Jordan Hoy, a junior college transfer, weren't cutting it, Wilder inserted Williams before the half of a 53-23 home loss to North Carolina.
In that game, Williams threw for 139 yards and two touchdowns, including a 71-yard hit for a score.
"It was a goal of mine to play as a freshman," said Williams, who threw 73 TD passes in two seasons as a starter at Wilson. "The coaches told me to come in and be ready to play. I didn't expect it this soon. ... It's my opportunity and now I have to take my opportunity and run with it."
Getting Highsmith On Track
Wesleyan is proud of touting sophomore running back Dario Highsmith of Middletown, who was named the state's Gatorade Player of the Year in 2013 out of Middletown High.
He is the Cardinals' starting tailback, but has just 21 yards on 12 carries in two games. Wesleyan coach Dan DiCenzo said the offensive line needs to do a better job of creating creases for Highsmith and there are some things he and his staff can do to help spring him as well, including lining him up as a wide receiver.
The 6 foot, 215 pound Highsmith is at his most dangerous when he's in space, in the open field. He's coming off a a 24-17 win over Tufts in overtime, in which he had just 10 yards on six carries.
"What I like about Dario is that he wants to do whatever he can to help the team win," DiCenzo said. "From our perspective he's one of our top three playmakers and we need to find ways to get him the ball. We know that. And we know getting him into space would be a good situation for us. He catches the ball really well."
Highsmith had five catches for 48 yards in the season-opening loss to Middlebury and 11 yards on six carries rushing.
Elm City Rivalry
The Elm City Trophy, which is on the line again Friday night at 7 p.m. when Southern Connecticut plays New Haven, has firmly been in New Haven's grasp. Southern Connecticut hosts the 29th meeting between the rivals at Jess Dow field, but the Chargers have won eight of the last nine meetings.
The Chargers (3-1, 2-1 Northeast 10) have a bead on the conference title too while the Owls (1-3, 1-2) have a chance to get back in the race with a win, ut Southern came out punchless in a 14-6 loss to American International last week. New Haven, averaging 27 points a game, is a last-second missed field goal away from being undefeated. The Chargers lost 35-34 to defending conference champ LIU Sept. 9. … Sacred Heart (2-2, 0-0) is hosting Central Connecticut (1-3, 0-0) in the Northeast Conference opener for both teams at Campus Field in Fairfield. CCSU leads the series 11-8 all-time, which includes a 37-35 win last year on Ed Groth's 35-yard field goal with 15 seconds left.